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There are few feelings as delicious as snuggling into a warm sleeping bag at the end of a glorious day on the trail, and there are few feelings as disturbing as sliding into your sleeping bag and realizing that it’s not warm enough and you’re in for a sleepless, shivering night. Your sleeping bag can make or break your backpacking trip, so you need to choose the right one. It’s not easy: there are hundreds of bags on the market, offering different shapes, sizes, insulation types, and temperature ratings at wildly different prices. We’ve made your choice a bit simpler by selecting ten of the best backpacking sleeping bags for different price ranges and seasonal needs.

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Women’s Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Budget Sleeping Bags | Lightweight Sleeping Bags

Summer Sleeping Bags | Sleeping Bag Liners | Down Sleeping Bags | Double Sleeping Bags

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Quick Answer - The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  1. REI Co-op Helio
  2. Marmot Trestles 30
  3. Marmot Never Summer
  4. Marmot Always Summer
  5. REI Co-op Magma
  6. Marmot Col
  7. Sea to Summit Traverse TvII
  8. Therm-a-Rest Hyperion
  9. The North Face Cat’s Meow 22
  10. The North Face One

Comparison Table - Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking

PictureNameInsulationWeightTemperature RatingShapePriceRating
REI Co-op HelioDuck Down1 lb. 9.3 oz. (Lightweight)45 degrees (F)Semi-Rectangular$4.5
Marmot Trestles 30Synthetic3 lbs 1 oz (Heavy)30 degrees (F)Mummy$4.0
Marmot Never SummerDuck Down3 lbs. 3 oz. (Heavy)0 degrees (F)Mummy$$4.0
Marmot Always SummerDuck Down1 lb. 10.8 oz. (Lightweight)40 degrees (F)Mummy$$4.5
REI Co-op MagmaGoose Down1 lb. 12.2 oz. (Lightweight)16 degrees (F)Mummy$$$4.5
Marmot ColGoose Down3 lbs. 14.5 oz. (Heavy)-20 degrees (F)Mummy$$$$5.0
Sea to Summit Traverse TvIISynthetic2 lbs. 7 oz. (Medium Weight)25 degrees (F)Semi-Rectangular$$4.5
Therm-a-Rest HyperionGoose Down1 lb (Ultra Lightweight)32 degrees (F)Mummy$$$4.5
The North Face Cat’s Meow 22Synthetic2 lbs. 4 oz. (Medium Weight)20 degrees (F)Mummy$$4.0
The North Face OneComposite, Synthetic And DownMax: 3 lbs. 12 oz. (3 layers), Min: 2 lbs. 3 oz. (1 layer)5, 20, or 40 degrees (F)Mummy (3-in-one design)$$$4.0
PictureNameInsulationWeightTemperature RatingShapePriceRating

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Reviews - Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

REI Co-op Helio

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Semi-Rectangular
  • Weight: 1 lb. 9.3 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Temperature Rating: 45 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 6.5 x 8.5 inches
Features
  • Unzips Into A Quilt
  • Relaxed Shape For Warm-Weather Comfort
  • Water-Repellent Finish (to keep you dry even in damp conditions)

BEST BUDGET SUMMER BAG

This lightweight, compact summer bag gets rave reviews and is one of the most affordable bags on the market. If your outdoor adventures don’t involve cold and you’re looking for a great deal, look no further: the Helio is what you want. This bag is a great addition as a liner for cool nights, or you can use it solo if you’re a warm sleeper or you don’t mind wearing some extra clothes in your bag. Some reviewers even suggested that it’s possible to transform this sleeping bag into a “Snuggie” of sorts, which you can wear around camp on cool mornings or chilly nights by the campfire!

Marmot Trestles 30

Specs
  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz (Heavy)
  • Temperature Rating: 30 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 8.5 x 18 inches
Features
  • External Stash Pocket For Storing Nighttime Necessities
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Bag Fabric Out Of Zipper
  • Off-Side Partial Zipper For Drying And Ventilation
  • Long Wide Size Available For Larger Users

BEST BUDGET 3-SEASON BAG

This synthetic-fill bag may not be the lightest or the most compact sleeping bag on the market, but it will keep you warm in temperatures down to freezing, and it will get you on the trail without crushing your bank account. If you need a quality sleeping bag and you’re not ready to lay out the coin for a premium down bag, or if you’re looking at camping in wetter-than-usual conditions, the Marmot Trestles 30 makes an excellent compromise choice. With three sizes available in the men’s version and two in the women’s, there are enough options to assure everyone a perfect fit in an affordable 3-season bag.

Marmot Never Summer

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz. (Heavy)
  • Temperature Rating: 0 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 8.5 x 18 inches
Features
  • Water Repellent Finish (to keep you dry even in damp conditions)
  • Draft Tube Backs Zipper To Keep Cold Air Out
  • Multi-Baffle Hood For Head Warmth
  • Heater Pocket In Footbox (heater packets sold separately)

BEST BUDGET WINTER BAG

“Budget” is a relative term here. The Never Summer is by no means cheap, but it’s about as cheap as you can get for a true winter sleeping bag that will keep you warm when the temperature dives well below freezing. A water-repellent shell keeps the insulation dry, a down-filled draft tube behind the zipper keeps cold air from leaking through the zipper slot, and the baffles (the pockets that hold the down in place) in the hood are optimized to keep you warm even when the hood is drawn tight. There’s even a pocket in the foot area for a heating packet, the winter camping equivalent of a hot water bottle for your bed. If you’re going to camp in the winter, you need the right gear, and choosing this bag let’s you get started cold weather camping without having to choose between poverty and hypothermia!

Marmot Always Summer

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Temperature Rating: 40 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 14 inches
Features
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Bag Fabric Out Of The Zipper
  • Wrap-Around Footbox Adds Space and Warmth
  • Multi-Baffled Hood For Head Warmth
  • Internal Stash Pocket

BEST SUMMER BAG

This light, compact bag is a great value in a first-class piece of gear and is warm enough to stretch into late spring and early fall, especially if you’re a warm sleeper. Marmot’s classic summer bag has a premium set of features, like an anti-snag zipper to keep the bag fabric from being sucked into the zipper, a foot area that adds space without sacrificing warmth, and hood baffles (the pockets that hold the down in place) designed to insulate even when drawn tight. It also carries a surprisingly reasonable price tag, making it a top choice for campers who prefer warm-weather adventures.

REI Co-op Magma

Specs
  • Insulation: Goose Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Temperature Rating: 16 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 14 inches
Features
  • Plenty Of Knee And Foot Space
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Fabric From Getting Caught In The Zipper
  • Contoured Hood With Pillow Space

BEST 3 SEASON BAG

The Magma 15 has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio in the REI lineup, coming in at only 1 lb 12.2 oz for the regular size for a bag rated down to 16 degrees F. With high-quality water-resistant down and a host of premium features, this bag is drawing top reviews as one of the best all-around backpacking bags on the market. Pair this bag with a good quality insulating pad and it will keep you warm at well below freezing temperatures while adding only marginally more weight and bulk to your load than a good summer bag.

Marmot Col

Specs
  • Insulation: Goose Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 14.5 oz. (Heavy)
  • Temperature Rating: -20 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7.5 x 16 inches
Features
  • Waterproof Shell Keeps Down Dry
  • Cross-Baffle Construction Prevents Cold Spots
  • Reinforced Footbox To Accommodate Boot Liners And Water Bottle
  • Six-Baffle Hood For Superior Warmth

BEST WINTER BAG

The Marmot Col is an expensive piece of gear, but if you plan to camp in true subzero conditions you don’t want to be cutting corners on your sleeping bag. This model was introduced 25 years ago and has been evolving ever since, remaining the top choice for Himalayan expeditions and other excursions into the coldest places on earth. Marmot gets extra points for the reinforced footbox: winter campers often keep items they don’t want to be frozen in the bottom of their sleeping bag, and that can cause wear. The Col solves that problem.

This is not a light or compact sleeping bag: one reviewer called it “a hulking yellow behemoth of loft and warmth.” It’s not meant to be light. It’s meant to keep you warm in the worst possible conditions, and that’s what it does.

Sea to Summit Traverse TvII

Specs
  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Semi-Rectangular
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz. (Medium Weight)
  • Temperature Rating: 25 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: N/A
Features
  • Rectangular Shape Offers More Space Than Traditional Mummy-shaped Bag
  • Can Be Zipped To A Second Sleeping Bag (sold separately)
  • High-Quality Water-Resistant Down (to keep you dry even in damp conditions)
  • Multiple Zippers Allow For Maximum Ventilation

BEST ALL AROUND BAG

If you’re seeking a little more comfort at the cost of a slight bit of extra weight, then the Sea to Summit Traverse is what you need. This bag is rated to keep you warm in temperatures as low as 25 degrees F and its semi-rectangular shape and numerous zipper options on both sides of the bag and at the feet allow you to customize your warmth and your comfort so you can sleep just the way you want. This comfortable and cozy sleeping bag can even be zipped up with a second bag, so you can stay close to your trekking partner even while you sleep!

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion

Specs
  • Insulation: Goose Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 1 lb (Ultra Lightweight)
  • Temperature Rating: 32 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 5.5 x 6 inches
Features
  • Incredibly Light And Compact
  • Water-Resistant Down And Shell
  • Connectors Integrate Bag With Therm-A-Rest Mattress (not included)
  • Three Sizes Assure Good Fit
  • Incredibly Light And Compact (yes, we said that twice… because seriously, it is)

BEST ULTRALIGHT BAG

If you had to look twice at the specs on this bag, we don’t blame you: so did we. Therm-a-Rest has dominated the sleeping pad business for many years, and their move into sleeping bags is making some serious waves. The Hyperion 32 matches ultra-premium 900-fill water-repellent down with ultralight water-repellent fabrics to deliver a 3-season bag that weighs only a pound for the regular size and packs into a 5.5×6 inch stuff sack! Don’t expect a lot of features: everything nonessential has been stripped down to achieve those insane dimensions. If you’re looking for the basics and you plan on doing extended treks where size and weight are the primary concerns, the Hyperion 32 delivers.

The North Face Cat’s Meow 22

Specs
  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Lower Rating: 22 F
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz. (Medium Weight)
  • Temperature Rating: 20 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 9 x 16 inches
Features
  • Proprietary Lightweight Synthetic Insulation
  • Loops For Attaching Bag To A Sleeping Pad
  • Draft Collar Prevents Heat Loss At Neck

BEST SYNTHETIC BAG

The Cat’s Meow has been North Face’s top of the line synthetic-fill bag for many years, evolving as new technologies and materials become available. No synthetic-fill bag will be as light or as compact as a high quality down bag, but synthetic fill is cheaper, insulates better when wet, and in many cases handles washing more easily than down. If you do your camping in wet weather or you’re looking for a premium bag at a lower price point than down allows, this one’s for you.

The North Face One

Specs
  • Insulation: Composite, Synthetic And Down
  • Length: 78 inches
  • Shape: Mummy (3-in-one design)
  • Weight: Max: 3 lbs. 12 oz. (3 layers), Min: 2 lbs. 3 oz. (1 layer)
  • Temperature Rating: 5, 20, or 40 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 13.5 liters
Features
  • Innovative 2-Part Design Delivers 3 Bags In One
  • Zippers Allow Easy Configuration Changes
  • Bottom Layer Rolls To A Pillow

MOST VERSATILE BAG

The One Bag is a new evolution in sleeping bag design. You can use the light synthetic-fill outer shell as a 40-degree summer bag, use the snugger down inner bag as a 3 season bag down to 20 degrees, or combine the two for a true winter bag that will keep you warm down to 5 degrees. If you pack both components it’s a bit heavier and bulkier than many premium bags, but in most cases you’ll be able to get by with either the outer bag or the inner, and on trips where you need the full range of options nothing else can deliver this level of versatility. 

Some reviewers reported some confusion in operating the zipper systems used to assemble and disassemble the various configurations, so take some time to practice putting it together and taking it apart before setting out on an adventure!

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SLEEPING BAG FOR BACKPACKING

You want your sleeping bag to be light, compact, comfortable, and warm. Check the weight, and look at the stuff sack size to see how much space the bag will take up in your pack. Most backpackers prefer the narrow mummy or semi-mummy shape, which is snug but keeps bags lighter and more compact. Down is the insulation of choice, though backpackers on lower budgets or those who are often in wet conditions may prefer a synthetic fill. Beyond that, our choices are narrowed down by our budgets and by the conditions in which we intend to use our equipment.

 

TEMPERATURE RATINGS

An “ISO” or “EN” temperature rating is based on a standardized test that assigns two numbers: a “comfort” rating and a “lower limit” rating. If you see two figures, the bag has probably been ISO or EN tested. The testing is expensive, so many manufacturers just assign their own rating based on design and experience.

Temperature ratings are a general guideline, and actual performance will depend on the conditions, the pad you use, the clothes you wear, and how much warmth you need. People who are considered “warm sleepers” will want a warmer bag, those who are “cold sleepers” can push the rating more. Remember that it may get colder than you expect!

 

SEASONAL CLASSIFICATIONS

Most manufacturers classify bags in three brackets: 

  • SUMMER BAGS are rated at 30 degrees (F) and above
  • THREE SEASON bags are rated from 15 to 39 degrees (F)
  • WINTER BAGS are rated below 15 degrees (F)

 

INSULATION TYPE

DOWN

Goose and duck down are durable, light, and can be repeatedly compressed and still expand to full volume after. Those qualities make them the preferred insulators for sleeping bags. There are several types of down typically listed in sleeping bag specs.

WATER REPELLENT DOWN

AKA water resistant down – this is down that is treated so that it absorbs less moisture. These treatments have made down more competitive with synthetics for wet weather camping.

SYNTHETIC INSULATION

Synthetic insulation in sleeping bags typically involves mats of polyester fibers, though most manufacturers use their own proprietary types. Synthetic insulation is heavier and less compact than down, but it is also less expensive, dries faster, and continues to insulate even when wet.

RESPONSIBLE DOWN STANDARD (RDS)

This is down has been sourced from suppliers who comply with animal treatment standards.

 

SLEEPING PADS

Your insulating pad is an integral part of your sleeping system. Most bags have limited insulating ability on the bottom, because your weight compresses the insulation. A good pad is essential, and many bag manufacturers use straps, pockets, or other arrangements to attach the bag to the pad and keep you from sliding off it. If you’re looking for a pad to go with your new bag, check out our review of the best sleeping pads for backpacking.

 

ZIPPERS

Most sleeping bags close with a full-length zipper on one side, and some offer a partial off-side zipper to assist ventilation. Most bags can be ordered with a left-side or right-side zipper, depending on your preference, and many bags with opposing zippers can be zipped together to form a double bag. This feature is not available on all bags, so check if you plan to use it.

Anti-snag zippers are designed to prevent the fabric of the bag from getting stuck in the zipper, which is inconvenient and can damage the zipper or the fabric.

LEARN MORE

REI has an excellent guide to buying a backpacking sleeping bag, which explains many features in great detail. For a deeper discussion of temperature ratings, see this comprehensive guide from Therm-a-Rest.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

SHELL FABRICS

The shell is the fabric that holds the insulation in place. Many outer shells are now given water repellent treatments, while inner shells are given a soft texture for comfort. All shell fabrics are a compromise between weight and strength: you want it to be light, but you don’t want to rip or puncture it!

FILL WEIGHT

Fill weight refers to the expansive quality of the down. 500 fill weight is the lowest typically used in sleeping bags, while high-end bags use the very expensive 800 to 900 fill weight down. Higher fill weight indicates higher quality down.

BAFFLES

Insulation is sewn into compartments called baffles, which keep the insulation in place and prevent cold spots. Manufacturers devote a great deal of design ingenuity to arranging baffles for the best performance.

SIZES

Most men’s sleeping bags come in a 78 inch long and a 72 inch regular size. Most women’s bags offer a 70 inch long and a 67 inch regular size. Some manufacturers use different sizes, and some may have additional lengths or extra wide sizes. Weight and bulk may vary with size.

DRAFT TUBE

Draft tubes are insulated pockets that close off the space behind the zipper to keep cold air from seeping in.

INSULATED COLLARS OR YOKES

These are insulation arrangements that close off the neck area to avoid heat loss.

STUFF SACK

Most manufacturers supply two bags: a compression sack that reduces the bag to its smallest possible volume for stowing in a backpack, and a storage sack that allows the bag to loft up and breathe. Storing the bag in the provided storage sack when not in use will extend its lifespan.

Some manufacturers quote stuff sack size in external dimensions (in inches), others in volume (usually in liters).

 

READ MORE

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Women’s Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Double Sleeping Bags

Down Sleeping Bags | Lightweight Sleeping Bags

Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Summer Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bag Liners

One Response

  1. M. L.

    I’m torn. Based on the traveling.camping I do, I would need to buy two sleeping bags. I’m not sure what would be best for hiking in South America. Could you point me in a direction? For camping this time of year and as it gets colder here in Michigan, I would go for the Nemo Sonic if I had the budget, and if my budget was tight, the Kelty SB20 I, like you, have woken up freezing before, one time taking all of my clothing, getting dressed in multiple layers and piling the rest on top of me (when I got caught out in an ice storm and it was safer to pull over and pull my bag out of my trunk…where I keep it in case of emergencies when I’m not camping). Even with all that I was cold. I immediately invested in a better sleeping bag after that happened. I believe in buying the best you possibly can afford and taking care of it…and I do like how there is more room at the end of the bag is (where my feet would be located). I prefer that.

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